York River Wild and Scenic River Act of 2019
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 1248, A BILL TO AMEND THE WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS ACT TO DESIGNATE CERTAIN RIVER SEGMENTS WITHIN THE YORK WATERSHED IN THE STATE OF MAINE AS COMPONENTS OF THE NATIONAL WILD AND SCENIC RIVER SYSTEM, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
MAY 22, 2019
Chairwoman Haaland, Ranking Member Young, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 1248, a bill to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate certain river segments within the York watershed in the State of Maine as components of the National Wild and Scenic River System, and for other purposes.
Initial review indicates that the segments proposed for designation under this bill may be eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (System). However, the study report is only in the preliminary internal review stage. We recommend that the committee defer action on H.R. 1248 until the study is completed.
H.R. 1248 would designate eight segments of the York River totaling 30.8 miles as part of the System, to be administered by the Secretary of the Interior as a recreational river. The segments would be managed in accordance with the York River Watershed Stewardship Plan (August 2018) prepared as a part of the study, with the Secretary coordinating administration and management with a locally based stewardship committee, as specified in the plan. The bill would authorize the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements with the State of Maine, the municipalities of Eliot, Kittery, South Berwick, and York, and appropriate local, regional, or State planning, environmental, or recreational organizations. The legislation follows the model of other recent New England Wild and Scenic River designations based on a “partnership” model emphasizing locally based management solutions and a limited federal role.
The study of the York River was authorized by P.L. 113-291, the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The National Park Service has conducted the study in close cooperation with the adjoining communities, the State of Maine, the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and other interested local parties. Technical assistance provided as a part of the study made possible the development of the York River Watershed Stewardship Plan (August 2018). This plan is based primarily around local partner actions designed to guide the stewardship of certain segments the York River with or without a National Wild and Scenic River designation.
If H.R. 1248 is enacted, segments of the York River and its tributaries would be administered as a partnership wild and scenic river, similar to several other designations in the Northeast, including the upper Farmington River and the Eightmile River in Connecticut, and the Lamprey River in New Hampshire.
Ms. Chairwoman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.